Starr Parodi

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When this funky album was released, the keyboardist was a popular and fashionable mainstay in "the posse" on The Arsenio Hall Show. Parodi composes everything from soulful funk to world music, and she leaves a nice bit of room for improvisation without being too concerned about cutting things short for airplay. While her energetic and danceable cover of "Superstition" is the centerpiece, she also proves to be a fine writer on perky fare like "Joyful" and smooth and passionate gems like "Covenant" and "Serengeti Trail." Concept pieces like the title track, "Something of Value," and "The Honor System" get a little bogged down with Najee-esque backing vocals that take away from the songs themselves. While she has many of L.A.'s top studio cats helping her out -- drummer Joey Heredia, guitarist Phil Keaggy, and saxophonist Gary Meek -- the real charms come when she tones down the synth rack and takes elegant turns on her acoustic piano.

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